Friday, 22 June 2018

UK Hoverflies Facebook Group - guiding principles

The UK Hoverflies page was set up in 2013 as an adjunct to the UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme. At the time there were quite a few different media for assisting people with ID but there was no medium for working with the Recording Scheme; hence this group. There are some guiding principles, however:

  • The page is monitored by three highly experienced hoverfly specialists (I don’t use the term expert). They do so because they are interested and committed to growing skill and interest in hoverflies. This team gives the page a different flavour to other crowd-sourced ID media. We try to make sure that the IDs are as accurate as possible, which sometimes means that we are more cautious than others might be. Today, the core team is assisted by a very able group of developing specialists who have been mentored for several years. Hopefully, we will create a long-term ethos for the group and thus for hoverfly recording.
  • We want to avoid elitism and some of the bad practices that are seen in some other elements of wildlife watching (e.g. birding). So, we want to be inclusive – everybody is welcome provided they stick to a set of principles. What we ask of new members when they join is to read the fixed post at the head of the page and to provide their post with relevant data (i.e. the date and grid reference) so that a record can be created. It is a simple request that helps to ensure that specialist time is well-used.
  • The data assembled by the HRS is part of the body of information used in many research projects that investigate trends in wildlife abundance; from pollinators to the state of the environment. This work (undertaken by various Universities) depends upon high quality data and advanced modelling techniques. Thus, we try to assemble the most comprehensive data possible. So, there are real benefits from members submitting as complete lists of what they have seen as possible.

Whilst reports of rare species are always welcome, they are inevitably a tiny fraction of what is around. We really need to know what is going on amongst the commoner species that are the bellwethers of wildlife statistics. By way of a comparison, I was reminded only last weekend of the lack of data on House Sparrow because BTO had a policy of actively discouraging ringing of this species; until it was too late and a crash had happened. Nevertheless, we should also recognise that some 'wildlife tourism' is potentially helpful as it does provide an element of monitoring. If reports of rare species together with commoner ones are posted, then the visit is made that much more useful in conservation terms.

The lesson is clear, and is one we are keen to avoid. Thus, we try to encourage the posting of full lists in much the same way as BirdTrack does. The fuller the data, the more likely we are to pick up trends and it is possible to raise the alarm. Whether the politicians listen and act is, sadly, a different matter beyond our control!

1 comment:

  1. Roger, as a non-wildlife specialist I can only apply the principles I have always used as a nurse - report and document everything, then discuss, analysis and agree a plan a plan of action. One person is not always right, it is a team approach. Thanks ton youn and the other specialistsbIhave learnt a lot and look foreword to continuing my education. I raise my glass to you all.